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SP rebel MLA Nitin Agarwal elected Deputy Speaker of U.P. Assembly

Uttar Pradesh Assembly Speaker H N Dixit (L) offers sweets to newly elected Deputy Speaker Nitin Agarwal at Vidhan Bhawan in Lucknow, Monday, Oct. 18, 2021.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Nitin Agarwal, a rebel MLA of the Samajwadi Party backed by the ruling BJP, was elected Deputy Speaker of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly on Monday.

With 304 votes, Mr. Agarwal, former Minister of State under the Akhilesh Yadav government and a third-term MLA from Hardoi, defeated Narendra Singh Verma of the SP.

Mr. Agarwal had quit the SP along with his father Naresh Agarwal, a former Minister, and joined the BJP ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election. However, the MLA is technically still regarded as an SP legislator and the party’s petition seeking his disqualification had reportedly been rejected. This technicality allowed Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to justify the decision to field Mr. Agarwal, a Vaishya, for the post traditionally reserved in recent years for the largest Opposition party, which is currently the SP.

Mr. Verma, a six-time MLA from Sitapur belonging to the Kurmi (OBC) caste, received only 60 votes, which was however more than the number of MLAs currently with the SP. The Opposition BSP and the Congress boycotted the polls, which were held using ballot paper during a special session of the Assembly.

Yogi’s charge

Speaking in the Assembly following Mr. Agarwal’s election, Mr. Adityanath accused the SP of being “anti-youth” for fielding a senior MLA Verma (57) against the younger Agarwal (40). Mr. Adityanath mocked the SP and said the party had drowned in its internal contradictions. “It cannot even keep its own members,” Mr. Adityanath said, accusing the SP of “betraying” Mr. Verma and leading him into a battle that was already lost.

Mr. Adityanath, who hopes to become the first Chief Minister in the last several decades to retain power after a full five-year term, said the Deputy Speaker election was a signal that a similar result was expected in the upcoming Assembly polls. “The picture of 2022 polls has come out before us,” he said.

“An insult”

Leader of the Opposition Ram Govind Chaudhary was critical of the manner in which Mr. Agarwal was elected and accused the BJP government of “insulting and breaking parliamentary traditions”.

Mr. Chaudhary also said that the SP candidate securing more votes than its present strength in the House during voting (46) indicated that Akhilesh Yadav was returning to power. “This is an indication that in the 2022 election our number will increase,” said the senior SP MLA.

Mr. Adityanath said the government waited for more than four years for the SP to nominate a “young face” for the post of Deputy Speaker. Mr. Chaudhary shot back saying the government had never reached out to the Opposition on the subject.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2021 3:24:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/congress-to-boycott-deputy-speakers-election-in-uttar-pradesh/article37049945.ece

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